Frostbite
by Richelle Mead, fantasy (2008)
Razorbill Books, $8.99, ISBN 978-1-59514-175-0


Frostbite is the sequel to Vampire Academy, but don't let that stop you from reading it if you haven't read the previous book because there is a nice and detailed prologue that allows the reader to catch up with things. Do read the review of the previous book, though, if you want to know who is who and who have done what.

In Frostbite, we are back at the St Vladimir's Academy and school is about to close for the winter break. Rose Hathaway is still being tutored by Dmitri Belikov, but alas for her, Dmitri is determined to do the right thing. And by the right thing, we are talking about not having a torrid affair with her. On the other hand, the Moroi that Rose is guarding, Princess Vasilisa Drogomir, is having a blast of a time with her boyfriend Christian Ozera. Rose herself is rather confused when her best friend Mason begins sending signals that he wouldn't mind taking Dmitri's place in her heart. Worse, her mother shows up at the Academy to remind Rose why the two of them don't get along at all. If that isn't enough to spoil the rest of Rose's school term, someone is killing off members of the Moroi royalty one by one and it is rumored that humans are colluding with the Strigois in their plans to destroy the Morois.

Lissa has very little to do in this story, by the way, this is pretty much entirely Rose's story. I have to say that after the fast-paced Vampire Academy, it takes some effort on my part to get used to the very sluggish pace that Frostbite is stuck in. This is also a book where I realize very keenly that I am probably too old and cynical to completely appreciate this book because for the most part, I am bored of Rose's typical adolescent angst about her mother, Dmitri, and what not. I can understand why Rose feels the way she does about things since I was once seventeen myself, heh. I can even feel sorry for her - Rose's mother really comes off like an uncaring robot here at times. Will it really kill her to be nice even a little to Rose? That woman has me suspecting that she's been lobotomized or something - it's like having Madeline from that old TV series La Femme Nikita as a mother.

The last third or so, however, is a very good read. The plot about the murders finally kicks into high gear. I feel that the way Rose gets to handle those powerful Strigois is pretty implausible given that she is an untrained amateur but the events leading up to that moment make a gripping and exciting read. Hey, if Harry Potter can go around beating down big bad villains with only a puny wand at his disposal after spending three-fourths of a book whining and sulking and being irritating, I suppose Rose can get away with her stunts. The author also gets going a storyarc involving some radical Morois who would rather use their magical abilities to protect themselves instead of relying on their dhampir guardians. I tell you, if we kill all the other Morois and keep these ones alive, I can finally understand why the dhampirs should care about the Morois. Strigois are still so much cooler than the weak and ineffectual Morois in this one. I also love how the author is slowly humanizing, for the want of a better word, the bitchy Mia. It will be interesting to see whether she'll end up the Faith to Rose's Buffy.

Oh, and maybe I shouldn't say this, but I hope you guys who will be reading this book some time in the future don't get too invested in all of the characters in this story because, you know, not everyone will be able to make it to the last page alive. I'm personally bummed by this because I feel that the author has cut out an adorable character with a huge potential to become interesting. Personally, I won't mind if the utterly boring Dmitri bites the big one instead of that poor dear but I suppose that for kids like Rose, the ones that seem unattainable are the ones to go ga-ga over.

Frostbite starts out very slowly and it takes a considerable while before the story gets moving, but when it's on a roll, it's a fabulous read. Of course, it could be just me thinking that the story is slow because of all that teenage angst going on in the early parts of the story. I'm too old and cynical for teenage angsts, after all. Besides, by the last page of this book, I can barely remember why I have problems getting into the early parts of the story because I'm most intrigued to follow any future development in the whole Morois-are-striking-back revolution.

Plus, Lissa can bring people back from the dead, right? She can still put that skill of hers to good use in the next book, right?

Rating: 84


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